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8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold months

Want to make life a little easier this winter? Try these simple winter hacks!

By Today's Parent

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold months

Photo: iStockphoto

Quick fixes for winter

The trick to tying skates

1. Loosen laces halfway down so your child’s foot can slide in easily. The heel should sit flat and toes shouldn’t touch the end of the skate. Bang the heel on the ground to ensure it’s in properly.
2. Starting at the toe, pull each criss-crossed lace so the skate feels snug, but your child can still wiggle her toes. Hockey skates can be looser at the toes, but figure skates should be snug from toe to top.
3. For hockey skates, lace up to the top holes and tie with a bow. For figure skates, cross laces and loop around the eyelets, pulling as you go. Tie at the top. (If getting skates tight enough is a challenge, pick up a lace-pulling tool.)
4. Have her stand up; make sure her ankles feel supported and aren’t dipping inward. 

Do
* practise tying laces at home so your child has a better idea of what’s comfortable.
* purchase laces that are long enough to make a comfortable bow at the top of the tongue, but not too long that they have to be tied around the ankles.

Don’t
* wear thick socks—tights or thin socks help prevent blisters.
* buy second-hand skates; they’re molded for another foot and can cause uncomfortable “hot spots” on feet.

Tip:
How tight is too tight? When the skater bends his knees in a squat while standing, you should be able to slip a finger into the back of the boot about an inch or two down.

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsPhoto: iStockphoto

How to keep kids from losing mittens and toques

What you’ll need: extra-large suspenders

1. Unzip her jacket, and lay it flat on the table. Lay the suspenders flat inside the coat, with the shorter strap facing up.
2. Thread the two longer straps through each arm until the clips appear in the cuffs. Attach each mitten or glove to the suspender clip.
3. Thread the shorter strap through the loop near the hood area to attach the toque.

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsIllustrations by Grace Cho

Get toddlers to put on their own mittens

The “Alligator hand” technique

Have your child press her fingers tightly together and point her thumb downward, like an alligator getting ready to take a bite. This motion will get the thumb into the hole almost every time. —ModernParentsMessyKids.com

The “Touch my nose” technique

Hold the mitten up to your face with the open end facing your child. Ask him to touch your nose through the mitten. This will help him point his hand straight into the opening. —ParentHacks.com

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsPhoto: iStockphoto

Safely unstick a tongue from a metal pole

It doesn’t only happen in the movies! There are two methods to get a tongue unstuck from a metal pole or object:

OPTION 1
Pouring a cup of cool water over the tongue should loosen it. Keep pouring water until the tongue comes off.

OPTION 2
Have your child breathe on the pole—the warmth and moisture of his breath may help loosen his tongue from the pole. Now you can have him gradually try to ease his tongue off as it loosens.

Important:
Do not forcefully pull his tongue off the pole, as this will tear the tissue and result in bleeding.

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsIllustrations by Grace Cho

Make ice bubbles!

Head outside for a cool science experiment. When it’s below zero, take your bubble solution outdoors and give it a few minutes to cool. Then blow a bubble, and catch it on the wand. Wait a couple of minutes for it to slowly harden into a ball. It’s equally fun to make it shatter!

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsPhoto: iStockphoto

Keep hockey equipment fresh

Avoid that dreaded locker room smell…

1. Have kids dress in moisture-wicking clothing rather than cotton, which absorbs sweat.
2. Air out equipment immediately when you get  home (drying racks are handy). You can also use antibacterial spray.
3. About once a month, wash all gear (except skates and helmet) in a gentle, warm-water cycle, preferably in a front-loading washing machine (top-loaders have less space and may damage gear). Attach Velcro strips together before washing. Don’t use bleach, as it can cause the padding of equipment to deteriorate.
4. Air dry.

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsPhoto: iStockphoto

A fast way to dry winter boots

After hours of fun in the snow, there will be soggy feet–and soaked boots. To help wet footwear dry faster, stuff the insides with newspaper. You can also wrap additional newspaper around the outside of the boots and affix it with rubber bands. Newsprint effectively absorbs dampness.

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsPhoto: iStockphoto

Build a backyard rink

You will need: Ask for four 2 x 10-in. pieces of lumber (the total length should equal the perimeter of the rink), bolts (to fasten the boards) and a tarp that’s large enough to cover the area, with a little overhang. You can also buy a plastic rink liner at sports stores as an alternative to a tarp.

1. Lay the lumber down in the desired shape of the rink, then bolt the wood together. You can reinforce it with extra pieces of wood for support. 2. Next, lay the tarp over the wooden outline and press on it so the tarp is resting on the ground and the extra length extends past the wood. 3. Tuck the extra length under the wood, creating a seal so water won’t escape when you fill the rink. (You can also use a stapler and attach your tarp to the wood.) 4. Using a hose, fill the entire surface with water about 2 cm (1 in.) at a time (this prevents bubbles from forming). Let it freeze solid, then repeat until the ice is just about level with the wood. After a few days of temperatures around -10°C, your rink should be fully frozen and ready for fun.

8 winter hacks to get your family through the cold monthsIllustration by Alex Mathers

Read more: 10 winter birthday party ideas kids will love How to dress your baby for winter 3 babywearing techniques for winter

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